Well I would of started by saying Hello in Chinese but I don’t think the Chinese alphabet is on this iPad so Hello from Beijing will have to do! I have named this post after several things that have occurred since the last 36 hours and this is why…..
We started at, what I like to call the epicentre of the UK (London Heathrow) where the check in process worked well as usual (why can’t Bristol learn lessons from London…..they get on my nerves!). As we made our way towards the departure lounge as we were flying Business Class, after 2 hours of talking to some random Australians from Sydney (I learned that Australia has camels…fun fact). We made our way towards to the Gate which was situated in one of T5 satellite terminals, which can be accessed either by walking or by a Rapid Transit system, of course this made me ecstatic due to my love for all things trains! Basically, it comprises of a system similar to the DLR in London which is automated. As with the Heathrow Express, the train was level with the platform making it easy to get on and off . It was then time for our lovely 9 hour flight…..
We flew with BA in Business Class and, I don’t know if you know what it’s like but the best way to describe it is that your seats are in a little pod and basically you can turn it into a bed… quite a good idea for long haul flights!
On arrival in Beijing airport, I was amazed at the speed that I was able to get off the plane as the time it took for the baggage handlers to bring up my wheelchair….about 10 mins (sometimes we are waiting for 30 mins even at the biggest airports!).
Unfortunately my charm didn’t seem to work as we queued for security so that took a while until we were spotted by a young police lady on the 72 hour Barrier free line who beckoned us forward….what a nice person. this wasn’t the end of our terminal adventure because, as it turned out we landed at T3E and the exit was of course in the main Terminal leading to another Rapid Transport system ride….how exciting !
Its worth mentioning that I have to take my manual wheelchair because someone thought it would be a good idea to hide a bomb in an electric wheelchair leading to a ban on bringing them into China.
At Beijing airport we were met by the Trailfinders rep who escorted us through a mountain of traffic to reach to Peninsular Hotel, Beijing. Here are some photos of what greeted me in an accessible room.
As accessible rooms go it is the best I’ve stayed in yet with a good connecting room (I thought the wet room at the Hilton Doubletree Heathrow was impressive but this is way better). They actually have a proper shower chair.
The room itself is entirely controlled by touch screens from the lights to opening and closing the curtains! There is plenty of room to manoeuvre a wheelchair.
After a brief nap we spent the rest of the afternoon out and about around the Forbidden Palace, Tiannamen Square and the rest of downtown. As usual I’d done a bit of prior research and noted that, as a result of the 2008 Paralympics, the access of the city has dramatically improved and it’s good to see when we visited the Forbidden Palace …
Saying that, on our way back to the hotel we had to cross a 6 lane road with no accessible crossings apart from at Tinnamen Square. It was fine going down a ramp to the underpass but the other side was significantly steeper and resorted to an aided walk up the steps with mum and a helpful Chinese cyclist pushing the wheelchair up the ramp. I guess the lesson learnt was to ensure you get on the right side early enough before you head out of town!
On our return to the hotel we we’re greeted with this lovely cake and champagne as it was my 25th birthday yesterday, don’t know who it is from yet but we have a suspicion! (Actually we just found out that Damian at Trailfinders dropped some hints to the hotel)
The plan for tomorrow is to go to the Olympic park whilst attempting to navigate the accessible metro stations (which I’ve planned by watching a few you tube videos of the guys that have an obsession with elevators!). The park also has a few observation decks up a tower which should be thrilling.
Finally, I have found out that Twitter and Instagram can’t be accessed here but Facebook can so I will upload all the photos onto Twitter when I get back. 😄